Governor Jared Polis of Colorado advocates reducing property taxes within local governments and school districts, emphasizing the need for meaningful relief. The governor, in various public appearances, letters, and social media posts, is redirecting the discourse on property taxes toward the responsibility of local authorities following the failure of his ballot initiative.

Polis asserts that crafting a comprehensive statewide solution is beyond the capacity of the state government, highlighting the role of local elected officials in addressing the issue. Facing a substantial average property tax increase of 40% for Colorado homeowners in 2023 due to escalating property values, the governor previously enacted legislation during a special session to temporarily lower assessment rates and exempt the first $55,000 of a property’s value. However, he concedes that these measures were insufficient.

Local vs. State Solutions: The Complex Landscape of Tax Relief

In a recent development, Polis is urging taxing entities, including local governments, over 4,000 special districts, and schools, to consider temporarily reducing their mill levies—determinants of property tax levels. The governor contends that some districts are experiencing exorbitant increases, questioning whether their costs rose by such margins.
Notably, Polis commended Douglas County for reducing assessment rates by $28 million, resulting in an average savings of $223 for homeowners. During a visit to Breckenridge, he highlighted Colorado Mountain College’s decision to maintain their mill levy close to inflation.

However, Denver, the state’s largest city and home to the largest school district, appears hesitant to embrace the governor’s proposal. Mayor Mike Johnston and several city council and school board members did not respond to inquiries about their stance.

The governor’s proactive approach in using his platform to influence local elected officials has sparked tensions reminiscent of earlier clashes over a land-use bill that counties opposed. Despite potentially heightened tensions before the legislative session, Polis remains nonchalant when questioned about concerns.